Miss Popart guides kids into art

"I was approached by the gallery to develop an interactive tour so I created a character. Peggy Popart is of the Warholian ilk; she's a pop art lady; a 50s-style tour guide," Claudie said. "She's slighty bossy but that's just to keep the kids in line. She's silly and kooky too. It's a strange combination but I think it'll work very well. Miss Peggy wants to introduce children to the wonder and ridiculousness of art."

Peggy Popart's tour of the exhibitions on display at the Lismore Regional Gallery is for children aged four to 12. (They must be accompanied by adults.) Claudie is inspired by working with young people. She has a favourite quote from film writer George Seaton (who wrote Miracle on 34th Street): "Imagination is a place all by itself. A separate country. Now you've heard of the French nation, the British nation. Well, this is the Imagi-nation. It's a wonderful place."

"I love that quote," Claudie said. "Art is a great way for kids to express themselves, to let the imagination run free. We'll not only be looking at art, we'll be doing art activities, creating art."

Peggy Popart will start her monthly tours this Saturday at 10.30am. (Be on time. Miss P is very particular about punctuality.) The three current exhibitions on show at the Lismore Regional Gallery are Light Sensitive Material: Works from the Venghis Collection, Oksana Waterfall's Personal Geometry, and The Drawing Group: Rembrandt in the Bolten Paradigm.

"The three current exhibitions are contemporary and kids will be able to see that everything can be art," Claudie said. "Miss Peggy will help the kids make art goggles from found or recycled objects. Through these the kids will discover that everything can be seen as art. We'll look at artworks from dfferent angles. We'll lie down on the ground; look at art from between our legs - it's all about how we look at the world."

Claudie has a degree in visual arts, a diploma in education and has worked as a performer for the last 20 years in theatre and education.

"I worked for Roundabout Theatre in Mullumbimby for the last five years, and as a clown doctor at Lismore Base Hospital for the last two. I worked for RED Inc as an arts and drama facilitator working with youth with disability. I've done stand-up comedy too," she said. "I love working with kids. This job as Peggy Popart combines the three things I love the most - kids, performance and art. And I enjoy working for my community."

Perhaps Claudie's ability to communicate with just about anyone comes from growing up in a pub.

"Yes, I'm a pub kid. My parents had a pub in Matong (southern NSW). Then we moved to Sydney and I lived in another pub. In pubs you learn to talk with everyone."

Peggy Popart is the latest in a line of characters that Claudie has created.

"I love being in character. I love having fun with the character. My motto is 'you got to play'. It keeps you young. The main thing I want for these tours is for them to be fun for the kids. I want them to get a real hankering for art by enjoying art. The Peggy character will evolve in response to the kids' reaction to the art. There'll be a lot of improvisation, fun and silliness. I want the kids to want to come back for more - and their parents, their grandparents, their uncles, aunties, their poodles…"

Miss Peggy Popart's children tour for this month starts at 10.30am this Saturday, February 11, at Lismore Regional Gallery. No bookings are required, just turn up. The tour is free but donations are always appreciated. The tour takes about an hour and will be held every second Saturday of the month. There's a limit of 25 children per tour.

For more info phone the gallery on 6622 2209.

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